Le Méridien

8 a.m. poolside, two women rolling

cigarettes like a production

line. This hotel full of Russians

with grapefruit-hard stomachs

and bar tabs the length of my tax

return. Impossible not to envy

them, their skin thieving all light

from the Calangute sun, their immoveable

solitude. How they command language –

menus, signage, entire beach-side

restaurants. Evidence of their exodus

parcelled and steamed in breakfast

bain-maries. I find myself stunned

by their feet. I swim beneath

those twinned fish underbellies,

their only sunless extremity,

then watch more check in over strong

G&Ts, turning my page idly, and lower

dark glasses over my face as high noon

sharpens in their gold chains.

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